The countdown to Iran becoming a threshold nuclear state has begun and the world now stands at the abyss.
In addition to facilitating Iranian control over Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Bahrain, handing the keys to the Persian Gulf to the Iranian mullahs, ultimately blocking the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea by Iran’s Yemeni jihadist proxies thereby threatening global trade and the Suez Canal – Egypt’s lifeline, promoting nuclear proliferation amongst the most politically unstable Arab regimes on earth, and providing billions of dollars to some of the deadliest jihadist movements in the world, the recently concluded P5+1 Agreement signed in Vienna on July 14th grants Iran not one, but three paths to the bomb.
Iran can get the bomb either by purchasing it directly from North Korea (if sanctions relief is granted and billions of dollars are made available to it), secretly developing its own uranium enrichment and nuclear weapons programs leading to its sudden detonation of a nuclear device (as did North Korea), or it can wait to get the bomb by keeping the deal for ten years.
The deal allows Iran to continue its research and development on its advanced centrifuges; grants it sanctions relief (including the release of up to $150 billion in frozen assets with no automatic “snapback” mechanism); ends the arms embargo against it, and effectively removes “anytime, anywhere” inspections of its nuclear enrichment and weapons facilities. Nor does it insist that Iran cease its threats to annihilate the state of Israel, abandon public rallies calling for “death to America,” end support for terrorist organizations abroad, publicly reject the absurdities of Holocaust denial, release American political prisoners, or end violations of human rights at home.
$150B in Iranian sanctions relief pending
By lifting the strict economic sanctions and trade restrictions Washington and its allies laboriously put in place, the Agreement would release within months previously sanctioned oil and gas revenues that would then flow into Iranian coffers.
This would result in the freeing up of an estimated $150 billion in frozen Iranian assets and tens of billions of dollars in trade restrictions that would be eliminated almost immediately. European and Asian companies are already discussing up to $29 billion in potential mining investments in Iran once they get the go-ahead. And one day before the Vienna deal was signed, World Net Daily reported Iran’s biggest oil-shipping company, which boasts the world’s largest fleet of super tankers, signed a $2.3B agreement to construct 800 miles of pipelines which Iran has identified as its most critical conduit for future gas exports to Europe. All this makes the likelihood of “snap-back” sanctions by these countries highly unlikely – but more on that later.
The way is now clear for the eventual establishment of a new radical Islamic Shiite Empire stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to India. The Tehran regime does not need an atom bomb to accomplish that goal. But they do need money, so by releasing $150 billion within a year, freeing up their oil industry for unlimited exports, and opening up the world market to their purchasing agents, the deal will give the Iranians everything they need to prevail.
Syrian President Assad, Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh, and Hezbollah leader Nasrallah are already celebrating the billions of dollars they know Iran will give to their respective war machines thanks to the Vienna Agreement.
In short, this Agreement will fund Iranian imperialism directly and through its global terrorist proxies – while creating disincentives for the United States to confront it. Iran’s rulers are laughing all the way to the bank – and why not. They are only a one day flight (not one year as American and other policymakers hoped) from their long-time friend and supporter North Korea who would be more than willing to allow the Iranians the opportunity to assemble an atomic bomb in North Korea (if the price is right) while Western inspectors are busy occupying themselves with looking for traces of enriched uranium in Iran.
The deal paves the way for Iran to achieve its strategic goal by showing how weak Western opposition is to the transfer of control of the region into the hands of Iran. Two years ago, the Iranian economy was collapsing under the weight of massive international economic sanctions and it is conceivable that Iran’s Islamic regime would have collapsed as well. But the Agreement has now given the mullahs a new lease on life. Their economic situation will be completely transformed. A gold rush to Iran will now take place. Profits and the promise of jobs in stressed European and Russian economies will create powerful interest groups and popular sentiment against doing anything to upset the status quo – especially reactivating sanctions.
The “snap-back” fallacy
Thus, counting on “snapping back” the sanctions that in reality contain neither “snap” nor “back” is a fantasy of fools even when (not if) Tehran opts to use its soon-to-be vast financial resources to dramatically increase its support for Hezbollah and Hamas, the Assad regime in Syria, the Houthi rebellion in Yemen, the Shi´ites in Bahrain and the Shi´ites in Saudi Arabia, and it will employ the Revolutionary Guards to perpetrate acts of terrorism throughout the world – all of which is assured.
Worse, as Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute notes: “The terms of the nuclear agreement itself make ‘push back’ very difficult, because the deal says that any further sanctioning of Iran will blow up the agreement. So we have given Iran an instrument to blackmail us into not containing them.”
The short of it is this – the Iranians know the U.S. is unprepared to use force, and with the tens of billions in funds and unlocked oil revenues handed over to Iran to acquire weapons that can be used to strike at America and its allies, it knows that the United States will be even less willing to act militarily at “break-out time” than it is now. Revolutionary Guards Brig.-Gen. Mohammad Ali Asoudi even went so far as to add that Washington officials’ boastful remarks about their ability to attack Iran have become a joke among Iranian commanders.
Iran’s military nuclear infrastructure and enrichment facilities are reduced but left intact
Overall, the signatories to the Agreement walked away from virtually every key position demanding the reduction or dismantlement of Iran’s military nuclear infrastructure including its fortified Fordo nuclear facility buried under a mountain on a military base where Iran will be permitted to continue enriching uranium and developing its ability to spin faster and more advanced centrifuges.
According to the Agreement, Iran doesn’t need to destroy them, just not use them to make bomb-grade material. The excuse that Iran needs its own enrichment capability to make reactor fuel (about 4% enriched U-235) is false. If all Iran wanted was reactor-grade material, it could easily buy it from Russia or France at a much lower cost than it can make it itself. So the only purpose of having these centrifuges is to be able to make bomb-grade (90% enriched) uranium.
The deal has also backed away from UN Security Council Resolution 1696 of July 2006, which demanded that Iran suspend research and enrichment of radioisotopes, as well as U.S. demands for the dismantlement of its nuclear facilities.
In short, a nuclear timetable for Iran has now been established. In return for merely slowing down its pursuit of nuclear weapons, in 5 years (if that) according to the Agreement, the embargo on the import and export of conventional weapons will end.
Unsurprisingly, Iran is already in breach of that Agreement. Russia recently finalized the sale to Iran of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system in violation of the existing embargo, and it will be providing Iran with 250 highly-advanced Sukhoi-Su-30MK1 fighters as well as 100 – IL78 MKI tanker aircraft for refueling the Iranian air force in mid-flight which brings Israel and the Middle East Arab nations at large within easy range of Iranian aerial bombardment.
Debkafile, which is known to have extensive international military and intelligence sources, also announced on July 30th that Iran is to purchase from China 150 Chengdu J-10 sophisticated jet fighters which are comparable to the U.S. F-16.
These contracts are a direct result of the anticipated unfreezing of Iranian assets and the lifting of billions of dollars in trade sanctions. Abbas Araghchi, the deputy Iranian foreign minister who led the negotiations for Mr. Obama’s deal even admitted that, despite the Agreement, Iran will continue to buy all the arms it wants, from whomever it wants, and if the rest of the world doesn’t like it – too bad. He vowed that Iran would “buy weapons from wherever possible, and will provide weapons to whomever and wherever it considers appropriate.” Iran already provides Hamas with support in the form of cash, advanced weaponry, and electronic equipment used to interfere with the radio frequencies of Israeli drones and has trained Hamas fighters to use hang-gliders to infiltrate Israeli airspace in a future war, but this nothing compared to what Hamas will do with its new-found wealth.
Nor is Araghchi alone in dismissing the deal’s “restrictions”. Iran´s Supreme Leader Khamenei gave a particularly inflammatory speech just days after the deal, stating that the Islamic Republic´s policies toward the U.S. have not changed. “We will never stop supporting our friends in the region and the people of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon,” and he continued (referring to the Iranian terror axis in the Middle East): “Even after this deal, our policy towards the arrogant U.S. will not change.”
What about the $45B in court orders in favor of Iran’s terror victims
The Wall Street Journal raised another issue relating to the billions Iran will receive once sanctions are lifted and open trade with the country is allowed to resume. It notes that over two decades, U.S. federal courts have found the Iranian government liable for orchestrating or supporting terrorism abroad including the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers U.S. Air Force facility in Saudi Arabia, and multiple shootings and suicide bombings in Israel, among other attacks.
It notes: “Judges have awarded some $45B in damages to hundreds of plaintiffs such as Embassy bombing survivor Anne Dammarell and the widow and orphaned children of Hamas bombing victim Ira Weinstein. Iran has refused to pay a cent. Yet U.S. law provides for the victims to be able to get compensation under the 2002 Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. In negotiating Libya’s nuclear disarmament a decade ago, the U.S. secured an agreement for the Gaddafi regime to compensate victims of attacks such as the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The 1981 Algiers Accord resolving the Iranian hostage crisis included a claims tribunal that ordered $2.5B in payments from Tehran. In federal court in New York City last week, two dozen victims of Iranian terror sued to block the Iran deal for disregarding U.S. laws meant to enforce just compensation.”
It would be outrageous to release the $150 billion in frozen Iranian funds when these American families have $45B in unpaid court judgments against the terror-sponsoring regime in Tehran.
Understanding “taqiyya” – Iranian deceit and double-talk
Given Iran’s long history of deception, its mastery of taqiyya (Islam-sanctioned double- talk and deception, especially when dealing with “infidels”), its denial of IAEA access to its nuclear sites, and its continuous denials about its nuclear program in its negotiations, together with its creeping jihad through stealth and terror across five continents, there is absolutely no basis upon which to trust them now.
Since 1979, no Iranian leader has changed his mind or actions about Israel, about the U.S. or about human rights, and it is the height of folly and naiveté to believe that the Iranian regime will change in the next decade and give up on its global Islamist jihad as the Agreement’s signatories seem to believe.
Unfortunately, spokesmen for the U.S. Administration have already contradicted earlier assurances that any Agreement Iran makes would leave its nuclear facilities open to immediate inspection at any time. Now the public learns that the inspectors (none of whom under the Agreement can be Americans or Canadians) must ask for the opportunity to inspect a suspected site, not immediately, but within 24 days – no doubt followed by months of political haggling over the inspection details – giving the Iranians ample time to destroy incriminating evidence.
And to make matters worse, a “side deal” to the Vienna Agreement enables Iran to provide its own soil samples to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from the Parchin military complex south of Tehran where it is believed to be experimenting with ways to detonate a nuclear weapon. This arrangement would allow the Iranians to fake the samples provided to the IAEA.
U.S. satellite surveillance cameras have already photographed Iranian efforts to “sanitize” the site in advance of an IAEA inspection.
This calls into question Iran’s intention to fully account for the possible military dimensions of its current and past nuclear development. In fact, Iran has stated categorically that inspection of any of its military sites (which is quite obviously where research on or development of nuclear-related military applications would be conducted) will never occur.
Is this the “unprecedented verification” the U.S. administration promised us?
Is this what twenty months of negotiations with Iran generates?
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz represented that any agreement would provide for “anywhere, anytime” inspections, but as noted above, the deal provides nothing close to this. In fact, according to the Agreement, disclosure of Iran’s past nuclear-related activities is no longer a prerequisite for lifting international sanctions against Iran. As a result, the central question of Iran’s disclosure of dangerous nuclear activities in the past will remain unanswered. If Iran will not give a correct and complete accounting of its past and current nuclear activities, its suspicious current nuclear sites will likely never be inspected.
The Agreement signatories should have learned from their past experience in supervising the “destruction” of Syria’s chemical weapons that Iran cannot be trusted to abide by this Agreement. Two years after Syria signed an agreement with the U.S. and Russia to dismantle its chemical weapons, U.S. intelligence agencies and chemical weapons inspectors have now concluded that Syria has failed to account for its arsenal, developed new capabilities, and continues to use chemical attacks on the battle front without significant reaction from the international community.
For years, Iran managed to fool the international community by keeping secret the massive underground nuclear facilities it was building near Qom and Natanz, not to mention the fact that the Syrians were building a nuclear reactor for plutonium production and neither intelligence nor inspections prevented North Korea from building atomic bombs despite assurances that they wouldn’t be able to do so.
As a consequence, it is safe to assume that the Agreement will not have an enforceable inspections regime or a workable way to re-impose sanctions on Iran when it cheats. In fact, according to Tablet, in the immediate aftermath of the signing, the Iranian delegates told their superiors that “our most significant achievement” was America’s consent to the continued enrichment of uranium on Iranian territory – a complete about-face from America’s declared position prior to and during the talks. The Western delegates conceded on almost every one of the critical issues they had themselves resolved not to concede.
No wonder Iran’s Supreme Leader sent around a tweet of Obama pointing a pistol at his own head.
Signatories obligated to protect Iran’s nuclear facilities
Worse still, the parties to the Agreement are required to help Iran protect its nuclear facilities should anyone try to attack or sabotage them – including, presumably, Israel and any disenchanted signatories to the Agreement itself. Put into plain terms, the U.S. is protecting the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism to the detriment of Israel and its Sunni Arab Middle East allies.
Facilitating Iranian visits to foreign nuclear power plants
And Claudia Rosett, writing in PJ Media adds another layer of unbelievable irresponsibility by noting: “Annex III, Section D, item 8 of the Iran deal proposes to endow Iran with training in running a modern, “exclusively peaceful” nuclear infrastructure. As part of this plan, America will “facilitate exchanges and visits to nuclear power plants outside of Iran. Let’s spell this out: If you happen to live downwind of a nuclear power plant, do you really want officials from Iran – the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism – casing the joint? Think about that for a moment. Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Now, in the name of a benevolent international community, Iranian officials are to be hosted at nuclear power plants abroad.”
Wishful thinking is no basis for a foreign policy
In his June 2009 address in Cairo, President Obama said: “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings”…….. and in a January 2014 interview in the New Yorker, he added: “If we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion – not funding terrorist organizations, not trying to stir up sectarian discontent in other countries, and not developing a nuclear weapon – you could see an equilibrium developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran.”
Obama’s aspiration for equilibrium, however, is based on his conviction that Iran will voluntarily come to place limits on its own ambitions. To him, therefore, the nuclear deal is not an end in itself; it is a means to establish the larger end of a strategic partnership that will accomplish his sought-for “equilibrium” in the Middle East. In essence, he is honing a larger vision of foreign policy – one in which military power alone can’t achieve the most important objectives. This is based on his overriding belief that America is strongest when leading an international coalition and even an imperfect agreement with a sworn enemy can be progress, not capitulation.
If, as President Obama seems to believe, Iran’s government is capable not only of rational analysis, but of transforming itself into a reasonable and responsible international player, its possession of a nuclear program would not be so troubling. But allowing a genocidal, tyrannical, xenophobic, terrorism-sponsoring, apocalyptic, rogue, jihadist Islamic regime that is the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and which is theologically committed to achieving regional and ultimately global Islamic hegemony, and is pledged to the destruction of Israel to have a nuclear weapons program – is madness.
The Agreement draws on the same school of thought that believed the 1979 Iranian revolution would usher in liberal democracy; that the Oslo Accords would usher in a peaceful and prosperous “New Middle East,” that Bashar Assad was a forward-looking “reformer”, and that the “Arab Spring” would herald an era of freedom and liberty across the Arab world.
Amir Taheri, a senior Asharq Al- Awsat columnist and a leading expert on Persian Gulf politics, underlined the Persian Gulf reality: “The assumption that the Rafsanjani/Rouhani faction is interested in reforms is far-fetched. … In the third year of Rouhani´s presidency the number of prisoners of conscience has almost doubled along with the number of executions; political parties and trade unions remain banned; more publications have been shut than under [former Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad; exporting terror has intensified with a 32% rise in the budget of the Quds Force, which controls Iran´s terror network. … Kerry is chasing a dangerous fantasy: helping a regime in deep crisis regain its bearings and do more mischief at home and abroad.”
The same theme runs through Ray Takeyh’s recent editorial in the Washington Post, where he rationalizes: “The Islamic republic’s ideology is a radicalized variation of Shiite Islam. The regime’s loss of popular appeal is immaterial to those that perceive their legitimacy as deriving from the will of God. They see the U.S. as a sinister source of cultural pollution seeking to delude young Muslims in the name of modernity. Indeed, the clerical rulers appreciate that their revolution can survive only if Iran remains isolated from subversive Western influences. To them, Obama’s promise of global integration is not an invitation but a threat.”
Therefore, the basic premise of this deal is seriously flawed. In order to believe that such a change is possible, we must forget everything we know about the nature of this Islamic regime – that it is inherently aggressive and motivated by an extreme religious ideology that sees moderate Arabs, the West, the United States and Israel as enemies to be destroyed – not partners for peace and cooperation.
President Barack Obama has harmed the world by abandoning his own red lines – against the emphatic advice of his own military advisors. In doing so, he has bestowed ideological legitimacy on the Islamic Republic’s radical theocracy, and consigned the people of Iran to near permanent rule under the iron fist of Shi’a Islam.
Nuclear proliferation in the Arab Middle East is now confirmed
Furthermore, this Agreement will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Sunni Arab world. Saudi Arabia has already signed a $12B deal with France for two sophisticated nuclear reactors and they are also reaching out to Russia and South Korea to insure they’re not left behind in Iran’s quest for regional hegemony. As Mark Hanna notes in PJ Media: “A U.S.-approved deal sends the unequivocal message that unless you are a rogue nuclear nation, you’re not going to get the payoffs, U.S. protection and privileges Obama just afforded the Iranians”.
The Agreement demonstrates how safe it is to be America’s enemy, and the Administration’s policies toward Israel and Ukraine demonstrate how risky it is to be America’s ally. Iran will have been rewarded for having violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and will be given a red carpeted fast-track to complete its nuclear bomb and to construct intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that will be capable of reaching Israel, the Sunni Arab states of the Middle East, Europe and even America.
The fallacy of “the alternative to this deal is war” argument
The President maintains that the alternative to this deal is war. That claim is blatantly false and ignores the fact that Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear facilities in 1981, and Iraq did not declare war. Prof. Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute also points out that there is an historical precedent for tougher diplomacy and increased economic sanctions that work. The U.S. Senate refused to ratify SALT II, ending the SALT process, but war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union did not ensue. Both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan instead increased the economic and political pressure on the Soviet Union dramatically. The lesson is that walking away from bad deals does not inevitably lead either to war or to the end of negotiations.
The short of it is that Iran will neither stop its nuclear development, nor change its jihadist aggression, nor surrender unless compelled to do so. Instead of lifting the sanctions and guaranteeing the survival of the Islamic regime, the U.S. should be increasing and enforcing them, for even if a fraction of the revenues to be returned to Iran are allocated to expanding Islamic terrorism beyond its borders (as is expected), the U.S. will have subsidized the expansion of its worst nightmare.
The Iran deal, as presently constructed, is a mistake of historic proportions. It meets zero of the criteria for a good deal. It is not enforceable, it is not verifiable, nor is it in America’s national security interest. The world’s largest state sponsor of terror got everything it wanted and the free world got a ticking time-bomb. As Alan Dershowitz wrote recently: “The gamble is that by the time the most restrictive provisions of the deal expire, Iran will be a different country with more reasonable leaders. But can the world and especially the nations most at risk from an Iranian nuclear arsenal depend on faith, bets and dice, when they know that the last time the nuclear dice were rolled ….. North Korea ended up with nuclear weapons?”
Iran must be judged by its actions not its words. It has not signed up for peace, but is merely utilizing the tools given to it by the Western democracies in order to stave off international pressure and massive economic sanctions in return for hollow promises it has no intention to keep. For that reason, the Agreement reached with Iran is bad for the United States, for its Sunni Arab allies, for the West, for Israel and for the world, which is why the U.S. Congress must reject it.